‘Tragedy was potentially averted.’ Investigators say they stopped threats against several schools

ATLANTA — Forsyth County is now among several metro Atlanta counties dealing with school threats this week in what appears to be part of a nationwide trend across schools around the U.S.

On Thursday, sheriff investigators arrested a 16-year-old student on charges of making terroristic threats at Lambert High School.

Investigators say the school principal received a tip Thursday morning through email from someone who stumbled across the disturbing content.

Before the day was even over, investigators were able to trace the content back to the 16-year-old high school junior.

“We’ve tracked it back to several months,” said Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman. “That’s what’s so disturbing. There were several months of post that got worse and worse.”

It’s a costly burden for many law enforcement agencies chasing after threats that may or may not be credible.

In this case, it was all-hands-on-deck for nearly a dozen Forsyth County investigators.

The sheriff said it was worth the estimated tens of thousands of dollars for the six hours it took to prevent a tragedy.

“A crisis and tragedy was potentially averted,” Freeman said. “There is no threat to Lambert High School or any other school here in Forsyth County.”

The Forsyth County teen is now facing felony charges and is being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.

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A letter was sent out to Lambert parents and students saying in part, “The individual did not have access to weapons and will not be returning to school.”

“Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase across the nation and across Georgia of school threats. It seems to follow somewhat of a pattern after a highly publicized school shooting,” Freeman said.

Threats were also made at several other metro schools Friday, including Chattahoochee High School and Autrey Mill Middle School in Fulton County, Kell High School in Cobb County and Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County.

All of school districts involved said the threats were taken seriously and police and district officials took extra precautions to ensure the safety of students and staff at the schools.

A Cobb County School District spokesperson released a statement on Thursday saying police and school administrators found that the threat made against Kell High School was unfounded:

“We are aware of a rumored threat circulating on social media regarding Kell High School that is similar to messages circulating at other schools across the state and nation. The administration, along with the Cobb County Police Department and the Cobb County School District Police Department, immediately launched an investigation and found these rumors to be unfounded. The safety of our students and staff and the security of our campus remain our highest priority. We encourage parents, students, and staff members to report any safety concerns to the District’s Tipline via call, text, or email.”

Clayton County Public Schools officials confirmed that they are aware of the threats regarding Mundy’s Mill High School circulating around social media and say they are taking the appropriate actions to keep their students safe:

“Clayton County Public Schools is aware of a threat circulating social media regarding Mundy’s Mill High School. As the safety of all students, staff, and visitors to our campuses is a top priority, the school takes appropriate actions and the district will provide additional resources to ensure the safety of all as a precaution.”

Johns Creek police say Fulton County School Police and the Fulton County School District have sent letters to parents at both Chattahoochee High School and Autrey Mill Middle School detailing the steps they are taking to make sure students are safe. Police also say they will be increasing patrols at both schools on Friday.

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